Hi Steve:

Thanks for the link. I missed this article.

This ties in to my general complaint about the sorry state of the "auto-metadata" databases like 
Gracenote/cddb (used by iTunes) and freedb. Aside from having inconsistent naming of composers, 
conductors, soloists and vocalists, these databases are inconsistent about basic things such as 
punctuation and the use of modern or Roman numerals in titling symphonic movements, and are 
inconsistent in how titles in non-English languages are treated. The whole thing is a hellish 

iTunes is basically a "dumb robot" that just loads in rips from CD's or the equivilent, using 
Gracenote to fill in the data fields. The reason all these problems arose is that Gracenote started 
out as one of those low-quality "online group effort" things and then turned into a for-profit 
company, and was all the more profitable by not hiring editors and metadata specialists to bring all 
of this disparate information into standardized rules and structures. I can say from the experience 
of loading all the Mercury Living Presence CD's into an iTunes library that I had to do some sort of 
tag correction (ie metadata correction) on every single CD to make things like artist names, 
composer names and the way sections of classical works were titled into a consistent and 
easily-searchable/easily-sortable mass.

As to the issue addressed in the WSJ article, the "dumb robot" just breaks classical works into 
"tracks" from the original CD. So you wouldn't pay $2.50 for a full performance of a symphony, you'd 
have to find all the movements (hopefully they are named consistently -- but no sure bet -- so they 
can be found together on a list generated by an iTunes store search) and buy them separately, then 
put them into a playlist in order to play the symphony front-to-back in order. This whole system is 
set up for buying single pop tunes. By the way, this system also hurts sales of full pop/rock 
albums, so the record companies should be fighting this on all fronts.

When classical CD's first came out, I thought that movements should have been handled as 
sub-chapters, which the higher-end players could separate if someone really wanted to skip the 
second movement of a symphony, for example (and of course the record companies should have spent the 
extra few dollars during the Red Book authoring sessions and put in CD Text based on some 
agreed-upon naming/spelling/numbering structures -- a Red Book Stylebook -- and then these sloppy 
auto-fill metadata problems wouldn't exist). Each work should have its own "main cut" or chapter on 
a disc. So a typical CD might include two Rachmaninov piano concertos and then maybe a few short 
pieces to fill out the 74-80 minutes (almost all classical CD's did not cheat the buyer as far as 
fill out the time limits of the new medium, whether one thinks that's good or bad is a matter of 
opinion, suffice to say the first thing I do in iTunes is make playlsits of the original LP sequence 
or of individual works that I would want to sit through). The way that typical CD should have been 
partitioned is that each work was a chapter and the movements would be subchapters. So the first 
concert would be "track 1" and each movement would be 1.1, 1.2, etc. This is enabled in the Red Book 
definitions, but seldom used, and thus most players were never capable of skipping to and among the 
sub-chapters. But I'd bet most users just don't go skipping around with movements within a work. 
Because the industry unimaginatively divided classical works into "cuts" just like on an LP, they 
ended up with this handicap of each movement being an individual "track" in iTunes. I would bet, 
given the minimal sales of most classical recording on iTunes, it would be impossible to go back and 
make the "dumb robot" smarter at this point.

-- Tom Fine

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Steve Ramm" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Thursday, January 05, 2012 8:45 PM
Subject: [ARSCLIST] Interesting Article on iTunes and Classical music in yesterday'zs WSJ

> _ (
> Steve Ramm